By MADDY VITALE
The summer season may be gone and the shoulder season now in full swing, but officials at the Sea Isle City Chamber of Commerce and Revitalization are already thinking about next year’s tourism season.
The main focus discussed at a Chamber meeting Wednesday is how to make it more enticing for day-trippers and other guests to visit Sea Isle during the quieter times of the week – specifically Monday through Wednesday.
“We had a terrific summer,” Chamber President Christopher Glancey told the board members. “The south end suffered a little with the bridge (Townsends Inlet Bridge) out, but as far as people, the weekends are still booming. The weekdays are declining, and it is becoming a Thursday through Sunday town.”
That was also a concern of some of the other members at the meeting held at Mike’s Seafood & Dock Restaurant, courtesy of the owner and Chamber board member, Mike Monichetti.
Monichetti echoed Glancey’s sentiment that it is slower during Mondays through Wednesdays. He thinks the focus could be on continuing to provide incentives for people to come down in the first part of the week.
Businesses, Monichetti noted, could offer more discounts and other specials to give people value for their money and a reason why they should maybe opt for visiting the city minus the crowds of the Thursday through Sunday times of the week.
Monichetti said overall it was a phenomenal summer.
“The amount of business on Thursday through Sunday soared above last year’s numbers. Monday to Wednesday numbers are off,” he said.
Monichetti added that the booming business on weekends made up for the sluggish beginning of the week. Business at his restaurant was still up from last season, he said.
Glancey said the Chamber needs to sit down with the budget committee and look at the marketing plan for next year. They need to determine where best to spend the money, whether it be to bolster advertising to attract tourists in the midweek, or to focus on Thursday through Sundays.
The city and Chamber have offered a host of family-friendly events. There are movie nights, sports, festivals, entertainment, concerts and camps to enjoy throughout the summer on each day of the week.
On Wednesdays, the Chamber sponsored a teen-oriented Open Mic Night featuring karaoke, music, video games, volleyball and bean bag tosses. Members of the Sea Isle Police Department would show up to play volleyball with the teenagers. Open Mic Night was organized by Brian Heritage, owner of Heritage Surf & Sport in Sea Isle.
“Police Chief Tom McQuillen came every Wednesday and played volleyball and bean bag tosses,” Glancey said. “It was nice to see the police department and the teens having positive interactions. The chief did a really good job. I was there on Wednesday nights. To see teens playing volleyball with police was fun. They definitely want to do it again next year.”
Glancey said while the event was successful, it might be better to move it to Thursdays, when more vacationers are in town with their families.
While Chamber officials are discussing ways to boost midweek business and continue the momentum with the popularity of the weekend visitor figures, there have been some incentives that Sea Isle has offered for many years that spur the economy and newer ways that seem to be helping to attract people to the island.
For more than 25 years the city has offered free beach tag Wednesdays, designed to bring families, school groups and summer camps looking to save some money for the day. Businesses also offer midweek discounts on merchandise.
And the latest way to attract visitors is a successful shuttle service, which in partnership between the Chamber and a local campground brings campers to the resort midweek on the jitneys.
The shuttle service was such a success that the goal is to expand it to more campgrounds next year. Over the summer, the jitneys transported people from the Ocean View Resort campground to the city to enjoy shopping, bars and restaurants.